Everything about “Drinking Buddies” seems just about right.
Take the fight, for example. There’s this guy, Luke, who’s helping his co-worker move. They rent a truck, but it won’t fit in one of those narrow Chicago neighborhood alleys behind the co-worker’s new digs, so they have to leave it in the middle of the street while they quickly unload the furniture.
Not quickly enough for the impatient motorist who lays on the horn and starts yelling for them to move the truck, NOW. The argument turns physical — but it’s not one of those typical movie fights with punches that sound like baseball bats hitting leather sofas. It’s brutal and aggressive but it’s also kind of stupid and embarrassing and awkward. These are two guys who don’t fight, getting into a fight.
So it goes with the causal conversations, the workplace friendships, the after-work get-togethers, the romances, the breakups and the quiet resolutions in “Drinking Buddies,” a through-and-through indie-feeling film from director-writer-editor Joe Swanberg that almost never falls into the trap of being too smug, too cool, in its casual realism.
The World’s End is a tavern. It is the last stop on the golden mile — a legendary, unfinished pub crawl that still haunts one Gary King 20 years after the night he and his best mates tried but failed to down one pint apiece in each of the 12 joints along the way.
As we see in the perfectly conceived, hipster-nostalgic opening sequence in “The World’s End,” Gary WAS a young king of sorts of 1990, a charismatic, devil-may-care teenager leading “The Five Musketeers” on a pub crawl through the idyllic city of Newton Haven, a pub crawl that was punctuated by beer, brawls, fistfights and more beer.
Gary even struck romantic gold with a comely lass in the restroom of one of those pubs — a tryst he remembers fondly and often, but one she probably hasn’t thought about since the Soup Dragons and the Happy Mondays were ruling the jukebox.
Cut to present day. Four of the musketeers have grown up. Jobs, marriage, children, suits, ties — all the trappings.
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